Councillor cleared of

EXCLUSIVEBy Roddy AshworthA CONSERVATIVE councillor accused of a homophobic attack on a gay rights campaigner has been cleared by police of any wrongdoing.


By Roddy Ashworth

A CONSERVATIVE councillor accused of a homophobic attack on a gay rights campaigner has been cleared by police of any wrongdoing.

Colchester borough councillor Matthew Eaton, 24, a former parliamentary aide to North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin, had been arrested in connection with an alleged assault.

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A gay policy adviser claimed he had been attacked outside a bar, just yards from the Houses of Westminster, in July.

Mr Eaton was arrested, along with fellow Conservative aide, Charles Ranson, who worked for North East Cambridgeshire MP Malcolm Moss, by police in connection with what was described as a homophobic-motivated assault.

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He had been due to answer police bail today, but police contacted Mr Eaton yesterday and said there would be no further action taken on the matter. Mr Ranson was also been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Eaton said last night: “I feel ecstatic, I feel totally vindicated. I am delighted that the police agree that what this person alleged did not happen.

“The last few months have been a complete and utter nightmare. However, I would like to thank the police for the way they treated me - they were extremely fair. They were very professional in the way they went about their investigation.”

Mr Eaton said he felt as though his life had been on hold while the hate-crime allegation had hung over him.

“It was such a serious thing to have said against you when you know you didn't do it,” he added.

“It was especially bad because my character had been tarnished with an allegation of homophobia. I am very pleased that all of my friends, including those gay and black, have stuck by me through out all this.”

Mr Eaton, who represents Mile End on Colchester Borough Council, added: “I would also like to thank my girlfriend, and political colleagues from all parties who have stuck by me.

“I have received many, many words of support from all areas of the community.

“I would also like to thank the EADT for the way it has dealt both when the news came out and afterwards. It has proved itself to be exactly what it should be - a true community newspaper.”

Mr Jenkin, the Conservative spokesman for the Regions, said he had never doubted Mr Eaton's innocence.

“I am absolutely delighted. Congratulations to him. I never expected anything else - he is a really good guy,” he added.

John Jowers, the Conservative leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I am very pleased Matt has been completely vindicated - I never thought he could do such a thing, it is just not in his nature.

“It was a hell of a thing to land on a 24-year-old. It must have been devastating to be accused of that as a young politician.”

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